Monday, February 29, 2016

Poetry Break: More One-Line Poems

Schroedinger's Equations
Not-Poems killed the cat!
Google Images

One-Line Poetry - A New Genre Awaiting Its Manifesto:

Schroedinger's Poem
This one-line poem rhymes and doesn't rhyme.

Poetic License
I'm let as poet to use "ain't," aren't I?

This metric sentence isn't poetry.

Dis met-trick sin-tense's ant poetry.

'Not' Plagiarized!
This metric sentence is not poetry.

Symmetric sentences: Not poetry.

Did I say "Manifesto"? I intended that in a nonsexist, generic sense, i.e., both Man-ifesto and Woe-Man-ifesto.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sun-Ae slightly injured in fall . . .

Dangerous Floor!
Japan a Safe Country?
Google Images

My wife and two children are in Japan for four days, and I received an alarming email about 12:30 a.m. Saturday:
Daddy, Mama slipped on the bathroom floor and got a fracture on her right arm (wrist). We managed to get her to the emergency center at a nearby hospital and now she has a bandage cast. Also, she's taking painkillers. Nothing too serious, but inconvenient for Mama since she has to have a cast on for 6 weeks. Anyway, I'll take good care of her, so don't worry too much.
That was from my elder child, but I answered immediately to Sun-Ae:
I am worried. I hope the pain is not bad. I wish I were there to take care of you. I hope your trip is not ruined. I am going to bed and hope to hear tomorrow that you can still enjoy the trip.
I wrote again around 5:00 p.m. Saturday, worried that I'd heard nothing all day:
How is your arm? . . . [Are the kids] taking good care of you? . . . Let me hear from you . . .
About 8:30 p.m., an answer came, first from the younger:
Mama is okay. We got up at 12:00 PM . . . [and are] taking good care of Mom.
Then from the elder:
Actually, Mama is taking so good care of herself that I keep forgetting the fact that she can't use her right arm. She even uses chopsticks with her left hand. I guess this proves that she's the most talented (not sure if this is the right term) in our family. Anyway, nothing to worry about! Hope you have a great time enjoying the two days left by yourself.
I now sign off here to answer there . . .

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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Black Lives Matter Also in Nigeria

Destroyed Church in Nigeria

World Watch Monitor, reporting in Christianity Today, informs us that "Nigerian Churches Unite, Launch Plan Against World's Deadliest Terrorists" (February 25, 2016):
The world's deadliest terrorist group is not in the Middle East. It's in Nigeria, where the Islamist insurgency of Boko Haram and other forces killed more than 4,000 Christians in 2015.
The article is informative, for me anyway, because I learned that the jihad in Nigeria has deeper roots than I expected. According to Rev. Samuel Dali, President of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, jihad spread Islam in the early 19th century: :
We want the churches in the south and other parts of Nigeria to see this terrorism as not only for the churches in the north but for the whole country, because whatever affects Christians in northern Nigeria, eventually it will affect the rest of the country. The Jihad of Usman Dan Fodio, in 1814, started in the north. But after he subdued all the north, he moved towards the south and that’s why part of western Nigeria, populated by Yoruba, is converted to Islam. This is to say that Boko Haram is not just the issue of the north, because if they succeeded in capturing the north they will be in enough number to conquer the other parts of the country.
And groups such as Boko Haram are not limited to Nigeria, either. Islamist groups throughout the world are pressing hard against non-Muslims along what have been termed "bloody borders." Sometimes, however, Islamists get the opposite of what they aim for:
[S]ome of the Christians interviewed by Open Doors reported that church membership actually is increasing. Pews are filling up, they said, not only with Christians arriving from more violent locales, but also with former Muslims who say they are attracted by a Christian spirit of forgiveness, are driven by their own guilt, or are responding to dreams of Jesus.
Though even this Open Doors report implies that Christians in large numbers are being driven out of other areas . . .

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Friday, February 26, 2016

Ursula K. Le Guin Took Umbrage over Kazuo Ishiguro's Fantasy Belittlement

I'm always late to the party, but this time the fault lies with Mike Chivers, for only the other day did he mention this year-old 'disagreeablement' over the fantasy genre . . . Anyway, about a year ago, on the Book View Café, Ursula K. Le Guin took umbrage at Kazuo Ishiguro's remark to interviewer Alexandra Alter (NYT, February 20, 2015) about his novel The Buried Giant:
Will readers follow me into this? Will they understand what I’m trying to do, or will they be prejudiced against the surface elements? Are they going to say this is fantasy?
Le Guin disliked what she took to be Ishiguro's denigration of the genre fantasy:
Well, yes, they probably will [say this is fantasy]. Why not? It appears that the author takes the word for an insult. To me that is so insulting, it reflects such thoughtless prejudice, that I had to write this piece in response. Fantasy is probably the oldest literary device for talking about reality. ‘Surface elements,’ by which I take it he means ogres, dragons, Arthurian knights, mysterious boatmen, etc., which occur in certain works of great literary merit such as Beowulf, the Morte d'Arthur, and The Lord of the Rings, are also much imitated in contemporary commercial hackwork. Their presence or absence is not what constitutes a fantasy. Literary fantasy is the result of a vivid, powerful, coherent imagination drawing plausible impossibilities together into a vivid, powerful and coherent story, such as those mentioned, or The Odyssey, or Alice in Wonderland.
Le Guin is sensitive to this issue, for she has written masterly works within the fantasy genre, but she's overreacting, in my view, to what she thinks Ishiguro meant, namely, that to be identified as a fantasy writer is an insult. Let's keep in mind though, that Ishiguro did consciously write a fantasy novel, so he himself can't be prejudiced against the genre itself. I think he was instead concerned that some readers would dismiss the work 'just' a fantasy - and would consciously intend this description as an insult, as if fantasy were limited to the sort of "contemporary commercial hackwork" that merely imitates the genre.

On the issue of "surface elements," however, I agree with Le Guin's criticism of Ishiguro's view.

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Poetry Break: Two One-Line Poems . . .

Poetry in Motion

I leave you today with two puzzle poems, though not puzzles to baffle, rather, poems to readily see - or hear - and maybe smile over:
A mighty short poem is the universe.
An either reason or rhyme poem is worse.
They sort of go together, so that's all for today! Back tomorrow with more fun and games . . .


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

"Cover Your S, Ms. Hepburn, or Mr. Grant will!"

Big Ho Grandiose
"And the lightning's pink glare,
aplomb bursting from lair,
went poof in the night,
proof the Banner was there!"
The Banner Edition!

My frenemy Kevin Kim has recently posted a "Hiss" in the direction of Bill Vallicella and me:
Dr. Vallicella and Dr. Hodges both write blog posts in which an "s" is surrounded by parentheses. See here for Dr. V's post, and here for Dr. H's.

Wherefore the urge to lock the "s" inside concave walls? I suspect that the letter "s" can be rather unruly, so it's only natural to want to take it aside every now and then to give it a proper beating, followed by strict confinement until it comes to its (s)en(s)e(s).
Actually, though I can't speak for Bill, my reason rather differs from Kevin's inference. The parentheses noted by Kevin appear in my blogpost title for February 22nd: "Taking North Korea at its (S)word." Here's my own reasoning:
People are always threatening to kick some S. Well, let them try! They'll first have to kick through those shields!
Now, you know . . . and here's Hepburn and Grant!

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Education sometimes de-radicalizes Islamists . . .

Rafiullah Kakar

Nicholas Kristof, writing his regular column, speaks of "[His] Friend, the Former Muslim Extremist" (NYT, February 20, 2016), and he tells us that education sometimes helps individuals de-radicalize. Take the case of this friend, Rafiullah Kakar, who was radicalized in high school by a charismatic teacher, but then headed off to college for the shock of his young life:
When Rafi attended college in the city of Lahore, he encountered educated women for the first time. Previously, he had assumed that girls have second-rate minds, and that educated women have loose morals.

"I'd never interacted with a woman," he said. "Then in college there were these talented, outspoken women in class. It was a shock." It was part of an intellectual journey that led Rafi to become a passionate advocate for girls' education, including in his own family. His oldest sisters are illiterate, but his youngest sister is bound for college.
Education, however, doesn't always help. Many radicals are highly educated:
"Education can be a problem," Rafi says dryly.

He's right. It's possible to be too glib about the impact of education: Osama bin Laden was an engineer. Ayman al-Zawahri, the current leader of Al Qaeda, is a trilingual surgeon. Rafi notes that Pakistani doctors or engineers are sometimes extremists because in that country's specialized education system they gain the confidence of a university degree without the critical thinking that (ideally) comes from an acquaintance with the liberal arts.
So, what's the solution? More liberal arts with an emphasis on critical thinking, for one. Educating more girls, for another.

Any suggestions from readers?

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Taking North Korea at its (S)word

Kim Jong-un
NK News
Rodong Sinmun

In an article published by North Korea News, B.R. Myers argues for "Taking North Korea at its word" (February 13, 2016):
Isn't it time . . . that we paid more attention to the DPRK's own declarations of its intentions? Reiterated in Kim Jong Un's New Year's address, and featured in garish new wall posters, the slogan of "autonomous unification" seems harmless to most outsiders, as the regime knows only too well. To the North Koreans themselves, it has always stood for the conquest or subjugation of South Korea after nullification or removal of the U.S. military presence.
Myers then makes an interesting analogy:
For our part, we must at least stop acting as if the only motive for North Korea's armament too preposterous to discuss were the one that the country has reiterated, and acted in accordance with, for the past seventy years. Our initial response to 9/11 was to reduce it to a protest against U.S. support for Israel. Only recently have we begun to understand that the jihadists quite literally want the whole world. It is wishful thinking to assume that the ultra-nationalists in Pyongyang, who are far better armed than Islamic State, do not at least want the rest of their ethnic homeland.
In other words, we should take North Korea's threats to unify the Korean peninsula by military force as seriously as we've learned to take jihadists' threats to conquer the whole world through military force. They might both lack the military capacity, but that fact may be irrelevant in their calculations.

For the record, I was already convinced in the 1990s that jihadists wanted the world. I became interested in understanding Islam in 1979, when Iranian revolutionaries - with Islamist approval - occupied the American Embassy in Tehran and took the diplomats and staff hostage, so I read the Qur'an, expecting a message of God's love and consequent gift of peace at its core, which would show that the taking of hostages was wrong. I didn't find either love or peace as Islam's central message. I did find a few verses of peace, but more of war. so I concluded that the text was contradictory.

Eventually, however, I learned of the principle of abrogation: later revelations abrogate earlier ones if there are contradictions. The sword verses therefore abrogate such peaceful verses as the no-compulsion-in-religion verse, for Islam does use compulsion, as we can all now see, and Islamists repeatedly proclaim their aim of taking over the world..

Myers' insistence on taking North Korea's threats seriously may thus be the position to assume and therefore the one to prepare for.

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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Secret Cleaning Agent

Photo by Stephan M. Höhne

I'd like to have a "cleaning robot" like the one shown above, though more up to date since the photograph is ten years old now, having been taken in 2006. The German original is called a "Reinigungsroboter," which is why I've labeled it a "cleaning robot," but Wikipedia calls it a "robotic vacuum cleaner."

One of my household duties is to vacuum and mop the floor every Sunday - today, for example - and having one of these little robots would cut my workload in half.

But wouldn't that be cheating since I'm supposed to do half the household jobs and my wife the other half? Cheating? Yes, I hope so.

But actually, I'm not convinced one of these would really be able to clean our apartment floor. There are too many corners and various obstacles like furniture, kitty litter boxes. book shelves, and whatnot. I'd have to trail along behind, cleaning up what it can't.

I'd therefore like to see a more recent version since a lot can change in a decade. Do any of you readers have experience with these cleaning robots?


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Troy Frantz: Two Illustrations for "The Uncanny Story"

The Brooklyn-based artist Troy Frantz supplied my recently published tale, "The Uncanny Story," with two illustrations.

This upper image is an illustration of a Gawain Seminar taught by the protagonist early in the story, a tale of temptation to set the tone for what follows:

This lower image is an illustration showing the protagonist following Agashka - one of the several other characters in the story - on their way to see Emin Ence, with whom the protagonist will perhaps sign a contract:

Both illustrations are to be found on the website of the artist, Troy Frantz, at this link. The artist's main website address is here.

My tale, "The Uncanny Story,""can be found in the most recent of the anthology series edited by Carter Kaplan, namely, Emanations: 2 + 2 = 5, available on Amazon. (Carter Kaplan is also the guiding light for International Authors.)

But before reading "The Uncanny Story," you should read its 'prequel,' The Bottomless Bottle of Beer, also available on Amazon.

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Friday, February 19, 2016

Islamic State short on cash . . .

Flush with Success
(soon  to be flushed down the toilet bowl of history?)
Photo from AP,File

In a recent AP article, "IS faces budget crunch, cutting perks and trimming salaries" (February 16, 2016), the reporters Lori Hinnant, Zeina Karam, and Susannah George, along with Philip Issa, reveal problems that will degrade the Islamic State's ability to function:
[T]he Islamic State [IS] group has [a cash shortage and has therefore] slashed salaries across the region, [and has] asked Raqqa residents to pay utility bills in black market American dollars, . . . . [but is] having a hard time meeting expenses, thanks to coalition airstrikes and other measures that have eroded millions from . . . [IS] finances since last fall . . . . Necessities are dwindling in its urban centers, leading to shortages and widespread inflation . . . . In Raqqa, the group's stronghold in Syria, salaries have been halved since December, electricity is rationed, and prices for basics are spiraling out of reach . . . . [Every] civil servant, from the courts to the schools[, has had] . . . salary [cut] by 50 percent . . . . But that apparently wasn't enough [to] close the gap for a group that needs money to replace weapons lost in airstrikes and battles, and pays its fighters first and foremost. Those two expenses account for two-thirds of its budget . . . . Within the last two weeks, the extremist group started accepting only dollars for "tax" payments, water and electric bills . . . . [There is also] a directive announcing the fighters' salary cuts in Raqqa . . . . by half, and . . . [no one is] exempted from this decision . . . . [L]ow-level fighters [in al-Bab] . . . have begun to grumble, and . . . Islamic State officials [are] discussing crippling airstrikes on oil infrastructure in Syria and Iraq and the cutoff of supply lines and revenue sources . . . . [Additionally, the fighters feel] frustration, [and] their morale is down . . . . [Elsewhere, there are] skyrocketing prices for vegetables and sugar . . . . [For instance,] the road to Mosul was cut off late last year, and prices have risen swiftly - gas is up 25 percent, meat up nearly 70 percent, and sugar prices have doubled . . . . In the Iraqi city of Fallujah, fighters who once made $400 a month aren't being paid at all[,] and their food rations have been cut to two meals a day. (Associated Press)
Eventually, this Islamic State will collapse or be overrun by its enemies, but then what? Unfortunately, the enemies of the IS are not all friends with each other, so we'll likely see them turn on each other in attempts to grab all the territory possible and 'ethnically cleanse' it as extensively as they can.

For the longer AP article with many more details, go to this link.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

What a dream I had . . .

Luna Lee
aka "Not-Lig"
Google Images

Rather often these days, my friend Kevin Kim, writing in his main blog, "Big Hominid," refers to a former student of his whom he has nicknamed "Ligament" for reasons that connect to something or other that I know nothing about, and he shortens this nickname to "Lig" and claims that Lig looks like Luna Lee of gayageum fame, but he can't prove this bold assertion, he says, because Lig won't let him post a photo, so I think Lig is either a vampire, a creature that cannot be photographed, or Kevin's imaginary friend, also a creature that cannot be photographed, but in Kevin's original words:
If you're curious about what Lig looks like, and frustrated because she won't let me upload any photos of her onto the blog, watch this chick, who is almost Lig's spitting image. I've linked to Luna before; the link I just gave you is to one of my favorite vids. She's got an album now, Luna does, and I'm thinking about buying it. She's talented and original, and because she looks like A Certain Lady, she's also quite sexy.
Presumably, we're supposed to believe this on Kevin's word alone. Well, I had a dream about Kevin and Lig, and I'll have to disagree - Lig and Luna don't look alike at all! I saw this with my own eyes! Granted, in a dream, but still . . . and I've at least provided more evidence than any of you have! Anyway, I posted my dream as a comment on Kevin's blog:
Last night, I dreamed that you and Lig were out on a late-night walk, and the night was so dark that you lost contact, and you somehow took the hand of the wrong woman, but the two of you had such a wonderful conversation that you fell in love with each other, sight unseen, till you emerged on a lighted street, still hand in hand, and there also stood Lig, so you dropped the woman's hand, and she walked away, but so did Lig, and you wondered then why you hadn't at least given the new woman your card, but the next day, the new woman showed up at your place, having somehow determined where you lived . . . and I then woke up.

I hope my dream doesn't cause you any problems with Lig.
Readers will notice that I didn't mention in this comment my disagreement on Lig's appearance. That's because I didn't want to hurt Kevin's feelings, so I've posted my refutation only here on my secret blog, where Kevin will never see it.

A Penultimate Note: I don't know Lig (Ligament) at all, so anything I've written in this post is only about the imaginary Lig of the sort who appeared in my absurd dream, which should not be taken seriously in any way, for sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar, a pipe is just a pipe, and a dream is just a pipe dream, a fantastic notion without substance.

And finally, here's the song you've all been waiting for since reading the heading to this post . . .

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Abdel Bari Atwan: "ISIS Savagery Comes from Islamic History"

Abdel Bari Atwan
Video Clip

Abdel Bari Atwan, former editor-in-chief of Al-Quds Al-Arabi and current editor-in-chief of Al-Rai Al-Youm, gave a talk at the American University in Beirut titled, "ISIS Savagery Comes from Islamic History" (Memri, Clip No. 5299), and in a sense, he interviews his divided self, posing a position (which I've bold fonted), then responding to that position (which I've italicized):
I am surprised by people who say: "This blood soaked ideology [of ISIS] is alien to us. From where did they bring it? Islam is not blood soaked."

How can you say that Islam is not blood soaked?! This is very peculiar. In the days of the Abbasid Caliphate, Abu Al-Abbas Al-Saffah spread a carpet over people's skulls and had dinner . . . . [This] happened in our religion. The same is true of the Umayyad Caliphate.

Still, people ask: "Where did this ideology come from?"

Didn't the Wahhabi movement go to Karbala, where they killed thousands and desecrated the tomb of Hussein? They shattered tombs and almost destroyed the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad, when they took over Najd and Hijaz. They desecrated the tombs of all the companions of the Prophet.

Yet people say: "This is not Islamic ideology. The IS is neither Islamic nor a state. So why do they use savagery?"

In 2003, Abu Bakr Naji published the book Management of Savagery . . . . The period in which we are living is the stage of security chaos. This is the state of savagery. It is . . . [the Islamic State's] way of taking over the rule in this period of security chaos. This is what "management of savagery" means. They have been practicing savagery for a very simple reason: To strike fear in their enemy. They must sow fear among the enemy. It's all orchestrated. All organized.

[People talk] about (ISIS) not being Islamic.

I am not a religious source of authority, brother, but when the Sheik of Al-Azhar, who heads the moderate religious institution, refuses to accuse (ISIS) of heresy and says that they are Muslims - what more do we need? Some people disagree - and they are free to do so - but Al-Azhar is a moderate source of authority. The Sheik of Al-Azhar refused to accuse them of heresy, and said they are Muslims, and you expect 'Sheik' Abdel-Bari Atwan to pronounce them heretics?! It's a little difficult for me [to fathom].
In short, Abdel Bari Atwan reminds viewers that Islam is blood-soaked. To deny this is to deny history.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Kamel Daoud: Sexual Misery under Islam

Kamel Daoud

Kamel Daoud is a columnist for the newspaper Quotidien d’Oran and is author of the novel The Meursault Investigation, a recent response to The Stranger, the famous short novel published in 1942 by Albert Camus. This article of his, "The Sexual Misery of the Arab World," was translated from the French by John Cullen for the New York Times (February 12, 2016). In it, Daoud argues that the Muslim separation of women from men poisons men's minds about sex, about love, about the afterlife, and especially about how to treat women in this quotidian world:
The attacks on Western women by Arab migrants in Cologne, Germany, on New Year's Eve evoked the harassment of women in Tahrir Square itself during the heady days of the Egyptian revolution. The reminder has led people in the West to realize that one of the great miseries plaguing much of the so-called Arab world, and the Muslim world more generally, is its sick relationship with women. In some places, women are veiled, stoned and killed . . . . [S]ex is a great paradox in many countries of the Arab world: One acts as though it doesn't exist, and yet it determines everything that's unspoken. Denied, it weighs on the mind by its very concealment . . . . These contradictions create unbearable tensions. Desire has no outlet, no outcome; the couple is no longer a space of intimacy, but a concern of the whole group. The sexual misery that results can descend into absurdity and hysteria . . . . [O]ne hopes to experience love, but the mechanisms of love - encounters, seduction, flirting - are prevented: Women are watched, we obsess over their virginity.
Daoud notes the choice constructed by Muslims in pitting the West against Paradise:
One result is that people fantasize about the trappings of another world: either the West, with its display of immodesty and lust, or the Muslim paradise and its virgins . . . . [For Muslims in Islamic lands, o]rgasms are acceptable only after marriage - and subject to religious diktats that extinguish desire - or after death. Paradise and its virgins are a pet topic of preachers, who present these otherworldly delights as rewards to those who dwell in the lands of sexual misery[, that is, in the lands of Islam]. Dreaming about such prospects, suicide bombers surrender to a terrifying, surrealistic logic: The path to orgasm runs through death, not love . . . . [Now], with the latest influx of migrants [to Europe] from the Middle East and Africa, the pathological relationship . . . with women is bursting onto the scene in Europe . . . . [in] a clash of cultures playing out on the West's very soil . . . . People in the West are discovering, with anxiety and fear, that sex in the Muslim world is sick, and that the disease is spreading to their own lands.
Such is Daoud's analysis, and it looks rather spot on to me. A Muslim such as Daoud had to be the man to offer this analysis because Muslim men are the problem here, and political correctness bars a Western man from pointing to the depth of Muslim sexism, or bars the Western man if he doesn't want to be accused of 'racism' - as if the religion Islam were a race!

Now that the issue has been broached by a Muslim man, however, someone like me can join in on the discussion without having to be concerned about inviting pee-cee condemnation, for I'm just asking questions about a point made by someone else,

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Monday, February 15, 2016

Math as Critical Thinking?

Daniel Zaharopol

In the March 2016 issue of The Atlantic, education expert Peg Tyre writes of "The Math Revolution" that is quietly taking place, among some educators in the US, emphasizing not drills but conceptual thinking in teaching math, and she tells of Daniel Zaharopol, "founder and executive director of Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics" (BEAM), who is intent on locating minority kids with math skills, as in the following anecdote about a kid he found in Middle School 343:
Five years ago, when Zaharopol entered M.S. 343, a boxy-looking building in a rough section of the South Bronx, and sat down with a seventh-grader, Zavier Jenkins, who had a big smile and a Mohawk, nothing about the setup was auspicious. With just 13 percent of kids performing at grade level in English and 57 percent in math, M.S. 343 seemed an unlikely incubator for tomorrow's tech mogul or medical engineer.

But in a quiet conversation, Zaharopol learned that Jenkins had what his siblings and peers considered a quirky affinity for patterns and an inclination toward numbers. Lately, Jenkins confided to Zaharopol, a certain frustration had set in. He could complete his math assignments accurately, but he was growing bored.

Zaharopol asked Jenkins to do some simple computations, which he handled with ease. Then Zaharopol threw a puzzle at Jenkins and waited to see what would happen:
You have a drawer full of socks, each one of which is red, white, or blue. You start taking socks out without looking at them. How many socks do you need to take out of the drawer to be sure you have taken out at least two socks that are the same color?
"For the first time, I was presented with a math problem that didn't have an easy answer," Jenkins recalls. At first, he simply multiplied two by three to get six socks. Dissatisfied, he began sifting through other strategies.

"I was very encouraged by that," Zaharopol told me. "Many kids just assume they have the right answer." After a few minutes, he offered to show Jenkins one way to reason through the problem. The energy in the room changed. "Not only did Zavier come up with the right answer" - four - "but he really understood it very thoroughly," Zaharopol said. "And he seemed to take delight in the experience." Four months later, Jenkins was living with 16 other rising eighth-graders in a dorm at the beam summer program on Bard College's campus in upstate New York, being coached on number theory, recursion, and graph theory by math majors, math teachers, and math professors from top universities around the country. With some counseling from BEAM, he entered a coding program, which led to an internship at Microsoft. Now a high-school senior, he has applied to some of the top engineering schools in the country.
Now, that's progress! I wish I'd been taught that way in my early school years. I did have one outstanding middle-school math teacher, though, and his name was Jerry Moody. I still remember the math formulas that he insisted we learn. I've always wanted to thank him for his successful methods, but I somehow never got around to it . . . so, if you're out there somewhere, Mr. Moody, "Thank you!"

Ah, almost forgot! Math as critical thinking! "Inessa Rifkin, a co-founder of the Russian School of Mathematics . . . [in] the United States" wants "children to ask difficult questions, to engage so it is not boring, to be able to do algebra[, for example,] at an early age, . . . but also to see it for what it is: a tool for critical thinking." Readers interested in Rifkin's views can look further into the article.

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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Those Emasculating Burgers! That Hideous Drink!

Chivas Regal
Aged 38 Years!
Not Fresh!

In an item from Memri about three years ago (January 13, 2013, Clip No. 5291 {Transcript}), we learn from Saudi Cleric Ali Al-Malki that the "West Tampers with Burgers, Whiskey to Induce Birth of Girls among Muslims":
Ali al-Malki: Unfortunately we have problems in this country and we call upon Allah and the Saudi political leaders to protect us and to protect our children.

Jeffery Hodges: So far, so reasonable . . . but what's the problem?

al-Malki: Our Milk has been tampered with. Our Juice has been tampered with. Everything imported into this country has been tampered with . . . Even the hamburgers. By Allah, when I was in China, I got a study in English, translated into Arabic. It said that the hamburgers sent to McDonald's, to Harvey's, and so on, contain a substance . . . Look at the level of scheming by the West. By Allah, I read this, and I am willing to attest this on the day I face God. They put into the meat that comes from abroad, a substance that kills the male genes both in men and in women. They kill the male genes in the man or his wife, so that there will be more women than men. They know that men are tantamount to future power, army, and hope among all the leaders in the world. Imagine how they came up with the idea of putting that substance in the meat.

Hodges: Ah, hamburgers . . . I now understand the name given to the character in the Popeye cartoons who so loved to eat hamburgers: "Wimpy."

al-Malki: Unfortunately we take all our dates from Al-Kharj and the north, and all of our grain, corn, and milk, and export them to America . . .

Hodges: Is that so?

al-Malki: . . . whereas they export whiskey to us. By the way some of that whiskey is not even fresh. It's defective. I'm a member (of the staff) at the narcotics hospital so I know. They send us defective alcohol, I'm sad to say."

Hodges: Saudi Arabia imports whiskey? And whiskey that's not even fresh? Like that Chivas Regal above that's at least 38 years old! I just happened to stumble upon this very old Chivas Regal, and damned if it doesn't provide evidence for al-Malki's concern about whiskey that isn't fresh . . .
Conspiracy theories are sometimes right! As this case shows! Mr. al-Malki must therefore be right on all his other points about the dreadful conspiracy that confronts Saudi Arabia.

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Saturday, February 13, 2016

JooYoung Choi's Cosmic Womb . . .

I'm not entirely sure what to make of this artist, JooYoung Choi. She's a bit like some of the outsider artists I've occasionally blogged on - her art is part of a larger creative goal, creating characters to populate an 'entire' cosmos! I put "entire" in scare quotes because in her wiki site about this place, she tells us that this cosmos - or, rather, this paracosm - spans 6,732 miles, which sounds small for a cosmos:
The Cosmic Womb Wiki documents the characters and history of a land called the "Cosmic Womb" created by JooYoung Choi. This paracosm spans approximately 6,732 miles, and is governed by Queen Kiok, humanoid creatures called Tuplets: Lady K, Aidee Three, Emo Flowers (No. 36), KunYook Six, Novem Nine, and Haneul-Sek aka Blue Girl, and one earthling from Concord, NH named C.S. Watson.
I'm reminded somehow of the great outsider artist Henry Darger, whom I have blogged about here. There's something of the novelist in both Darger and Choi in their compulsion to create characters and bring them together in a story.

But is Choi an outsider? Yes, to the extent that she feels herself one. She was an adoptee from Korea to Caucasian parents in the United States, and she lived in an almost entirely white area and always felt different, something of an outsider, which she of course was, but of this time, of that place, of some parentage, what does it matter? The future makes outsiders of us all . . .

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Friday, February 12, 2016

ISIS: A Successful Brand?


In the MEMRI Daily Brief, No. 78 (February 10, 2016), MEMRI VP Alberto M. Fernandez offers to readers the presentation he recently gave before the US Congress, titled, "After San Bernardino: The Future Of ISIS-Inspired Attacks," and he argues that such attacks will continue so long as the ISIS brand continues to outshine all competitors, so let's see what Fernandez says about this brand's success:
[T]he ISIS brand is a huge success. The fact that it has mobilized tens of thousands . . . . is testimony to the power of its message. It most certainly does represent, as one scholar noted recently, very much a revolutionary, contemporary appeal. Many of the components of this message are not new but the message is nothing if not contemporary . . . . [It] is a compelling package, which includes a strong Salafi Jihadist ideological component, a political project which is portrayed incessantly as seemingly successful and growing, and a 21st century appeal to substantive and consequential participation aimed at youth searching for purpose and identity in a apparently aimless, empty and hedonistic world . . . [It offers] fame and notoriety, vicarious violence, sex, and the end of the world . . . . [W]hat the Islamic State has succeeded in doing, at least for some, is creating a post-modern Salafi Jihadist sub-culture: high tech, cool, ultra-traditional, and non-compromising . . . . [This] brand is a "condensed symbol" . . . [- having] multiple layers of meaning, [offering] different things to different people [-] . . . . The fully formed brand as we know it today is really new, about 18 months old, dating from the double blow of June 2014: the fall of Mosul and the declaration of the Caliphate. Despite being so new, its success is complete in that it is now not a specific video or statement that mobilizes but rather the concept or image of the organization that does so . . . . If I [were] . . . to try to be as precise and narrow [as possible] in the words to describe the ISIS brand, it would be "Khilafa Rebellion Now." These three words sum up thousands of videos, tens of thousands of graphics and millions of tweets . . . . "Al-Khilafa" (the Caliphate) summarizes both the religious and state-building efforts that are unique features of the Islamic State. "Rebellion" captures the youth revolt, the "insurrectionist" nature of the movement . . . [-] this is a revolt against "the way things are now," the status quo, the mundane both in bourgeois Western democracies and Arab dictatorships. This [is] also rebellion against "the Other," the Jews, the Shi'a, the Christians and all those described in these words of power that ISIS uses: Kufar (Infidels), Mushrikeen (Polytheists), Rafida Najas ("Dirty Shi'a"), Taghut (Tyrant). And "Now" because the call is for action now, it includes a palpable sense of urgency, not something to be done in some fuzzy future.
Fernandez goes on to make several suggestions on how to tarnish that glowing image, but I will leave those for readers interested enough to go to the linked document and read it in its entirety.

For now, just understanding that there is a "brand" is enough.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Not Saddam's ISIS?

Samuel Helfont and Michael Brill disagree with one currently popular answer to the question of "Saddam's ISIS?" - and their answer is "No" in their remarks about "The Terrorist Group's Real Origin Story" (Foreign Affairs, January 12, 2016):
One of the key arguments in support of the "Saddam gave us ISIS" line is that veterans of Saddam's military and intelligence services are now members of ISIS. This should not be surprising. Since 2003, former Baathists have joined a variety of insurgent groups, not just ISIS. They have shifted their loyalties over time according to the political climate - basically to those they judged could successfully take power. Like others throughout history, Iraqis have repeatedly demonstrated a tremendous capacity for adapting to current circumstances and acquiescing to the dominant ideology . . . . Domestically, Saddam . . . opposed Islamism and those promoting any other version of Islam than his own . . . . The Baathists were ruthlessly consistent in their attempts to track down and "neutralize" anyone with the slightest hint of Salafist or Islamist sympathies . . . . The party secretariat asked the local branches . . . to take special note of adherents to "Salafism, Wahhabism, and the Muslim Brotherhood." Throughout the 1990s, the regime also fine-tuned the organization of its security services, creating special sections to deal with the Muslim Brotherhood, Wahhabis, and various Shiite Islamists. Another [incorrect] argument is that Saddam was applying sharia law when he beheaded prostitutes, cut the hands off thieves, or threw homosexuals from the rooftops; but there is no evidence in the Baathist records that the regime applied sharia law in Iraq. Such atrocities were carried out by regime paramilitaries such as the Fedayeen Saddam, many of whom, the regime's records indicate, were poor Shiites who are considered heretics by ISIS. Although elements of the regime's brutality resemble proto-ISIS behavior today, they are better understood as an evolution of the cruelty that characterized Baathist rule in Iraq. There was no Islamist motivation behind it.
Helfont and Brill thus argue that there's no evidence that Saddam turned toward Islamism in the latter days of his rule, nor is there any evidence that leading members of the Baath Party were involved in establishing the Islamic State. Rather, leading members of Iraq's Baath Party wound up as officials in the Islamic State for purely opportunistic reasons - and, I suppose, because their experience in governing was useful to the Islamic State.

Relevant to this issue would be the number of ex-Baathists in positions of genuine power in the Islamic State's governing agencies. The secular Arab Nationalist ideology known as "Baathism" had lost a lot of its legitimacy as a ruling ideology under Saddam, and he did turn toward Islam - cynically, I think - to regain some of that lost legitimacy. In a sense, then, one can speak of a kind of continuity, even if cynical in origin, if ex-Baathists' predominate in the Islamic State's governing institutions.

So . . . do they?

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Bronson Bodine Moment . . .


Carter Kaplan offers another episode, "Cold Echoes" (Emanations 2 + 2 = 5, pp. 324-362), in the continuing saga of Bronson Bodine. In the following lines on page 330, Bronson re-encounters - in Antarctica, of all places - the flamboyant pirate Captain Amber, whom he has recently fought side-by-side with against a common foe . . . but Amber is in a nasty mood:
"It is very good to see you again, Captain Amber," said Bronson Bodine. Beside him, Nabnak nodded sympathetically.

"Ar!" growled Amber. His eyes shook in their sockets. On the table beside him was a large meat cleaver he had been using to cut bandages. He snatched it up and hurled it at Bronson.

Bronson caught it easily with a curving motion that was as subtle as it was disarming. He hefted the cleaver significantly, eyed Amber closely, and then casually set the weapon on a table.
I thought the "subtle" way in which Bronson is described as catching the cleaver is well done. The word "disarming" is also nicely handled, for it cleaves into two different meanings.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Samuel Helfont on Islam and Islamism

Samuel Helfont

Regular readers know that Islam and Islamism are two terms I've often discussed and distinguished, using the rule of thumb that "Islam" is the religion and that "Islamism" is the political use of Islam. This distinction, however, is problematic, as we shall see. But first, let's read what the Islam expert Samuel Helfont offers as his views on "Islam and Islamism: A Primer for Teachers and Students" (FPRI Footnote, Vol. 20, No. 9, August 2015):
Disputes over Islam and Islamism continue to rage in the Islamic World and in Muslim communities in the West. Islamists often refer to themselves simply as Muslims and they claim that those who oppose their ideas also necessarily oppose Islam. They root their ideas in a particular reading of history. If Muhammad combined political and religious authority, then how could Muslims disavow the role of politics in Islam? This is a powerful argument.
Agreed, the fact that Muhammad is a moral exemplar for Muslims makes the distinction between Islam and Islamism problematic and weighs in favor of Islamism as the true Islam, for if Muhammad combined the two roles of religious leader and political leader (not to mention military leader and highest judge), then how can one separate Islam from politics?

Nevertheless, Helfont brings as much nuance to bear against Islamism as he can find in Muslim sources and history, and he thereby provides important information on politics and Islam throughout history.

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Monday, February 08, 2016

He's a stud-stud, stud-stud, stud-stud, study machine . . .

Kim Chung-woon
Photo by Chung Hee-cho
The Korea Herald

Korea Herald reporter Kim Hoo-ran interviews Kim Chung-woon on how "Studying is the key to owning your life" (February 5, 2016):
Kim Chung-woon, formerly a psychology professor and who now calls himself a "creator," is perfectly at home in his basement office in Nonhyeon-dong, Seoul . . . . Kim's office is a veritable man cave: . . . Walls lined with massive bookshelves holding volumes and volumes of books; a long desk from Japan that is crafted out of a very old tree trunk; a little nook with an easel and painting paraphernalia; a complex high-end sound system and a couch positioned just so you can appreciate the full impact of whatever may be blasting out of monstrous speakers . . . . "Well, this is a best-selling author's place," Kim says nonchalantly . . . . when I remark that visitors must envy this space. His latest book . . . has been top of the best-seller's list at a major online book store for three consecutive weeks. Several of his previous books have also been bestsellers.
One might then expect Kim to respond that writing is his most enjoyable activity, but:
For Kim, studying is the most fun thing. "Studying involves defining something that you like, giving it depth, clarity," he explains. Perhaps it is only natural that an academic scholar would cite studying as fun. "From my experience, intellectual achievement is the most fun thing. There is an ecstasy in learning something you didn't know before," he says.
Well, that's fine for him, but I'd rank studying second among "fun" things to do. My first is writing, but I can add that only when I'm writing do I really learn.

Hence this blog.


Sunday, February 07, 2016

"Witchy Woman"

The British writer Elkie Riches has a creepy ghost story, "Most Women do not Creep by Daylight," published in this year's Emanations 2 + 2 = 5. Here's a scene near the beginning:
Dust stirs faintly at my passing. Dust is the only thing that registers me and my persistence. I spent an age trying to rid this place of dust, to clean and please, and now in this new, darker age, I cultivate dust around me. I wear dust, I eat and breathe it, I drink it in great gasping, airless spasms. Sometimes when the afternoon is marked by a column of gold through the bedroom window, I feel the dust settle on my form - this persistent form - and I do believe if anyone were there they would see a shape made of sunlight. A woman's form suggested in curves. Maybe they would think me an angel - or whatever passed for that now. (page 195)
But she isn't an angel, not even close . . . I like that image, though, "a shape made of sunlight." Does that make her other than a "Witchy Woman"?


Saturday, February 06, 2016

The Mechanics of Creativity?

Mechanism of Creativity
Burlington Continuing Education

In that same Sunday Review section of the New York Times (January 30, 2016), Adam Grant explains another factor in his article "How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off": Fewer rules. To wit:
So what does it take to raise a creative child? One study compared the families of children who were rated among the most creative 5 percent in their school system with those who were not unusually creative. The parents of ordinary children had an average of six rules, like specific schedules for homework and bedtime. Parents of highly creative children had an average of fewer than one rule.
Fewer than one rule? Would that be a little like no rules?
Creativity may be hard to nurture, but it's easy to thwart. By limiting rules, parents encouraged their children to think for themselves. They tended to "place emphasis on moral values, rather than on specific rules," the Harvard psychologist Teresa Amabile reports.
How would one teach values without talking about rules? For instance, is the Golden Rule really just a rule? Or is it a broad statement of a value? "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Wouldn't that be a value expressed as a rule? Or a rule expressing a value?
Even then, though, parents didn't shove their values down their children's throats. When psychologists compared America's most creative architects with a group of highly skilled but unoriginal peers, there was something unique about the parents of the creative architects: "Emphasis was placed on the development of one's own ethical code."
One's own ethical code? What, then, if the 'ethical' code developed is unethical? Might there be creative sociopaths? Or if not sociopathic codes - since those would be extreme cases - at least self-interested codes developed at the expense of other people?

Oh, one more thing - despite the image above (from a different website), the implication of Grant's remarks is that there are no mechanics of creativity. That was just a bait and switch on my part. Rather creative of me, don't you think?


Friday, February 05, 2016

Creativity: Encouraging Breadth

Did Einstein really say this?
Birna Birgisdóttir

In a recent Sunday Review of the New York Times (January 30, 2016), Adam Grant explains "How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off":
Evidence shows that creative contributions depend on the breadth, not just depth, of our knowledge and experience. In fashion, the most original collections come from directors who spend the most time working abroad. In science, winning a Nobel Prize is less about being a single-minded genius and more about being interested in many things. Relative to typical scientists, Nobel Prize winners are 22 times more likely to perform as actors, dancers or magicians; 12 times more likely to write poetry, plays or novels; seven times more likely to dabble in arts and crafts; and twice as likely to play an instrument or compose music.

No one is forcing these luminary scientists to get involved in artistic hobbies. It's a reflection of their curiosity. And sometimes, that curiosity leads them to flashes of insight. "The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition," Albert Einstein reflected. His mother enrolled him in violin lessons starting at age 5, but he wasn't intrigued. His love of music only blossomed as a teenager, after he stopped taking lessons and stumbled upon Mozart's sonatas. "Love is a better teacher than a sense of duty," he said.
I agree. Passion drove my doctoral research, and I have breadth. So . . . why don't I have a position in my field? Not enough passion for the job-search battle, I guess.

By the way, did Einstein really say any of these pithy statements attributed to him?


Thursday, February 04, 2016

Fadel Boula on the Islamic State: Nothing to do with Islam?

Fadel Boula
Al-Akhbar, Iraq

The journalist Fadel Boula, resident of Iraq, asks aloud the question on everyone's mind:
Does terror truly have no religion?
We know this is on everyone's mind because everyone is so quick to disavow any link between terror and Islam, but Boula then surprises by undertaking to answer his own question without self-deceit:
This slogan ["The Islamic State has nothing to do with Islam"] is uttered regarding terror, as though [terror] reflects a picture that is completely unrelated to its perpetrators' religious affiliation, and as though there are no religious goals or values behind it, but only a state of insanity that causes those afflicted with it to run amok, unaware of what they are doing or what [they seek] to achieve by their actions – [actions] that disgust not only human beings but [even] the beasts of the jungle.
Boula's initial approach already notes the improbability that the terrorism supported by millions of people is either like unto a natural disaster or merely the work of primitive tribes:
The terror that is shaking the world today is not a natural disaster like a tornado, a thunderstorm or an earthquake, and it is not perpetrated by savage tribes. It is perpetrated by people who enlist [because they are] inspired by a religious ideology. [These people] advocate enforcing and spreading [this ideology as a set of] dogmatic principles that must be imposed by the force of the sword, and which [mandate] killing, expulsion and destruction wherever they go.
The Islamic State's motivation is religious, and that religious ideology is the Sunni version of Salafi Islam:
Since its inception, this movement of terror has espoused a Salafi ideology that champions religious extremism, and brainwashed people of all ages have rallied around its flag, [people who were] trained to kill themselves and kill others in order to attain martyrdom.
Boula continues, but he has already made his point, as noted on Memri, "Special Dispatch 6288" (February 1, 2016). We can add that not only is Salafi Islam like this, so is the Iranian version of Shia Islam that undergirds the theocratic state in Iran, but I don't know if Boula went that far since he was writing this piece for the pro-Iranian Iraqi newspaper Al-Akhbar . . .

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Wednesday, February 03, 2016

'Deadly Networks' out to get me?

Drift Net
Deadly Networks?
Mere Drifters

I thought at first that I was being alerted by an email to the dangers of drift nets, as the words "Deadly Networks" caught my eye, but upon looking more closely and perceiving the subject heading, which read, "YOUR LIFE HAS BEEN PAID FOR," I realized that I'd just received my first death threat (YAWN) in my time as a blogger - in fact, my first death threat (YAWN) ever in my . . . uh, life. It's from someone or other calling himself "Serial Killer," and this is how his message opened:
Attention, I am very sorry for you, [it] is a pity that this is how your life is going to end as soon as you don't comply. As you can see we are the members of the Deadly Networks in the world, which is responsible for the bombing of twin . . . tower's in America on Sept. 11th and the bombing of London transport services on July 7th (AL-QAEDA NETWORKS WORLDWIDE), I don't have any business with you, my duty as I am mailing you now is just to KILL you and I have to do it as I have already been paid for that. (Bold italicized underlined emphasis mine - HJH.)
Let me get this straight. Deadly Networks is the official name of the larger network, or association of networks, that includes Al-Qaeda, and this 'Serial Killer,' who's already been paid to kill me (and therefore has to do it) happens to feel sorry enough for me to let me know that he's going to kill me "as soon as . . . [I] don't comply." Eh? How would he know when I've begun not to comply? And not to comply with what? My death? Am I supposed to make an appointment? And he promised to tell me how I'm going to die. Well, how then? He doesn't say. So . . . is he going to fly a passenger plane into me? Or will he leave a bomb on me - as if I were a seat on a subway train? Let's see more on this:
Someone who you called your friend wants you dead by all means, and this person have spent a lot of money in this venture, This person came to us and told me that he wanted you dead and he provided us with your name, picture and other necessary information's we needed about you.
Some 'friend' wants me "dead by all means." I guess that means by planes, trains, and automobiles, at least, along with everything else in this wide, wild, wonderful universe that can kill a man. Hmm . . . Let me address this hitman directly.

Ahem. This job sure sounds complicated for you, but if you would just let me know the name of this friend of mine, that'd simplify things for sure. As you see, I'm complying, not delaying, merely trying to make things easier for you. At the moment, I just need to know what stage you've reached in your obligation to kill me. You seem to relate that below:
So I sent my boys to track you down this including bugging of your phones with satellite tracking devices and they have carried out the necessary investigation we needed for the operation on you, and if you doubt this information [I] am going to give you all the necessary information about you back to you in your next reply so that you can believe me, and my boys are really on you but I told them not to kill you that I will like to contact you and see if your life is important to you . . . . I called my client back and ask him of your email address which I didn't tell him what I wanted to do with it and he gave it to me and I am using it to contact you now. As I am writing you this mail my men are monitoring you and they are telling me everything about you.
Well, you certainly sound as though you know what you're doing. I congratulate you on your professionalism. That clever trick that got you my email address was pure genius. The 'friend' of mine will never suspect the truth. Good thing he didn't happen to ask why you wanted my email, else you'd have had to make up some story, why, like, "I don't know, I just want it," and that might have made him suspicious. (Folks just don't seem to trust each other anymore!) Moreover, I have to admit that my life is important to me. You're quite insightful for a sociopathic hitman. Indeed, I'm willing to pay a huge amount of cash just to hear that I won't be killed. How much do you want?
Now do you want to LIVE OR DIE? Since all program has be made and draw to kill you. Get back to me now if you are ready to pay some fees to spare your Life, $8,000 is all you need to spend in this process you will first of all Pay $3,000 and then I will send a tape to you which I recorded in every discussion I had with the person who wanted you dead and as soon as you get the Tape, You will pay the remaining balance of $5,000. If you are not ready for my help, then I will carry on with my job straight-up.
Only eight thousand dollars?! What an insult! My life is worth far more than a piddly 8,000! Of course, I want to live, but not for a mere 8,000 dollars! Get serious! I demand a more worthy proposal, or I won't pay a cent!
Don't shout at me, buster! And what's this about wishing me good luck? Don't you realize that my good luck is your misfortune? As for noticing anything 'funny,' rest assured that I'm not some sort of comedian! The only thing funny in all this is your ridiculously low estimate of how much my life is worth. I await your next offer, and it had better be serious.

Meanwhile, I'm putting all this on the internet by means of my blog so that you can easily find my response and know that I am deadly serious when I say that I have told no one about your email - and all my readers are witnesses to this fact.

(And yes, dear readers, just in case anyone misread my tone and thinks I'm being serious, let me set the record straight for you: I do indeed know that this death-threat email is a scam.)

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Tuesday, February 02, 2016

"Little Orphant Annie"

Mary Alice Smith
Little Orphant Annie

I don't recollect if I was in the fourth or fifth grade and whether Mrs. Hatman or Mrs. Grimmet read us this poem - which, incidentally, inspired the comic strip "Little Orphan Annie" - but one line has stuck with me all these years, so see if you can guess which one:
Little Orphant Annie
James Whitcomb Riley
Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away,
An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an' sweep,
An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board-an'-keep;
An' all us other children, when the supper-things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun
A-list'nin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about,
An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you
Ef you

Wunst they wuz a little boy wouldn't say his prayers,--
An' when he went to bed at night, away up-stairs,
His Mammy heerd him holler, an' his Daddy heerd him bawl,
An' when they turn't the kivvers down, he wuzn't there at all!
An' they seeked him in the rafter-room, an' cubby-hole, an' press,
An' seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an' ever'-wheres, I guess;
But all they ever found wuz thist his pants an' roundabout:--
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Ef you
An' one time a little girl 'ud allus laugh an' grin,
An' make fun of ever' one, an' all her blood-an'-kin;
An' wunst, when they was "company," an' ole folks wuz there,
She mocked 'em an' shocked 'em, an' said she didn't care!
An' thist as she kicked her heels, an' turn't to run an' hide,
They wuz two great big Black Things a-standin' by her side,
An' they snatched her through the ceilin' 'fore she knowed what she's about!
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Ef you
An' little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,
An' the lamp-wick sputters, an' the wind goes woo-oo!
An' you hear the crickets quit, an' the moon is gray,
An' the lightnin'-bugs in dew is all squenched away,--
You better mind yer parunts, an' yer teachurs fond an' dear,
An' churish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear,
An' he'p the pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about,
Er the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Ef you
You've doubtless guessed it, what stuck in my mind: "Er the Gobble-uns 'll git you ef you don't watch out!" The original title, by the way, was "The Elf Child." The poem serves as a warning to little children to be good, obviously, but are goblins working both sides of the street, on the side of both good and evil?

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Monday, February 01, 2016

Sun-Ae Returns . . .

Colorful Cloth

Sun-Ae returned from her South America trip on Saturday evening with stories, photos, and gifts. The image above is a photo of a pillowcase she bought in Quito, Ecuador on her way back to Korea. Look carefully - the colors are parrots! Appropriate, given the previous day's blog entry.

Sun-Ae and I both look better after her trip because we both lost weight - she from walking, I from starving . . .